Described by some reviewers as pretentious, the film takes for its subject the 2011 Meredith Kercher murder trial, or rather it takes for its subject a director who is attempting to make a film about the trial. In fact, the film that the director is trying to make, like Face of an Angel, is actually a film about trying to make a film about the trial. So put more accurately this film is a film about a director trying to make a film about a director trying to make a film. Winterbottom is taking us deep down into the self-referential rabbit hole.
It is this complexity that has led some reviewers to accuse the film of pretentiousness (and worse). Yet, though Face of an Angel always frustrates our desire to see into the facts of the trial itself, leading us instead through its self-referential hall or mirrors, it does thus give us a more revealing and truthful account of the trial than any straight narrative film would ever have been. The trial was remarkable not only for the tragic details of the case itself, but for the immense media storm that grew around it.
Amanda Knox's was one of the most covered trials of both this century and the last, with newspapers, the internet and television shows all full of competing claims of what the true facts of the case were. It would surely have been impossible for Winterbottom to have made a film about the case itself, given that no-one knows what exactly had happened to Meredith Kercher. He'd merely be dropping one more interpretation into the ocean of interpretations.
By focusing not on the trial itself, but on the media reporting it, Winterbottom gives a much more satisfying account: indeed, the case's only real certainty is the sheer scale of the media's obsession. Its wide reportage is partly what makes it such a remarkable event, so Winterbottom isn't distracting us from the point with his self-referential game playing, he is actually focusing our attention on one of the most characters in Kercher's story: the media.
Quite far from pretension, then, Face of an Angel gives a sophisticated insight into the nature of media in the modern age.
Watch a screening of the film followed by a Q&A with director Michael Winterbottom at the Curzon Soho on 27th March at 6.20pm.
|What||The Face of an Angel|
|Where||Various Locations | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
27 Mar 15 – 31 May 15, 6:00 PM – 12:00 AM
On 27 Mar 15, Screening + Q&A on the 27th March at 6.20pm
|Website||Click here to book via the Curzon Soho website.|